“Almost nothing needs to be said when you have eyes” Tarjei Vesaas
Japan has always been synonymous with a vibrant and slightly infectious culture, as evidenced in the fashion, food and even pop culture in America or other western countries.
Featuring ample natural attractions and a seemingly endless lineup of museums, there is also much more to Japan than just the above and this particular island is a microcosm of what makes this enthusiastic nation such a fascinating encounter.
Furthermore, if you are in any way unsure of this assessment, you need only venture into one of the many world class restaurants in Hokkaido to understand the beautifully complicated world which lies just beneath the exterior of this very charming destination:
The uncertain beginnings of Hokkaido
As Japan’s most northern regional island, it is difficult to say who landed here first and we only know that its history spans beyond the reaches of recorded history.
It is the second-largest island in Japan, and within relatively close proximity to Russia.
Ancient in every way, it is also believed that the indigenous people who inhabited Hokkaido arrived long before the Japanese had traveled to the island on a frozen landmass from Russia
In fact, this mystery surrounding history of the island can be found in the fact that the historical texts are mostly based upon speculation.
And this travels back as far as the 1400’s, when Japan and the Ainu waged war against each other.
With so much cloud and uncertainty surrounding Hokkaido’s history, you should understand that this mysterious feeling of “undiscovered” is never more obvious than when you set foot and stand upon the peninsula.
Up high and on the tip of the island
Two places of interest on Hokkaido which are worth every bit of effort are Cape Kamui and the immense Mount Hakodate.
Located on the very edge and very highest point of the island respectively, each location will bring a different perspective and both are certainly worth having experienced:
At Cape Kamui you will feel as though you are walking through a movie set.
Cape Kamui is arguably one of the most beautiful views in the entire world, giving a sense of tranquility and serenity by merely looking out across the hilltops of Hokkaido.
Gazing out into the ocean and entirely lost in the waters at Shakotan peninsula, you will realize that photos cannot do this place justice.
Instead, you can revel in the memory, and recollect it on your way back home.
Majestic and easily accessed, the absolute best view of Hokkaido can be found from this tall and wooded peak.
Particularly on a clear night, when you can see the city lights putting on a most spectacular display.
In fact, there is no other view like it in all of Hokkaido and climbing to the summit should be near the very top of your must-see list when visiting the island.
Best place to stay in Hokkaido
- Sapporo Grand Hotel: Frequent visitors make it a habit to stay at the Sapporo Grand Hotel on their trips to Hokkaido which is largely due to the affordable cost. However with more than just fair pricing, these excellent and well-designed rooms make you feel like you are getting the star treatment at bargain prices.
- Ki Niseko: Ki Niseko is the best of both worlds for leisure and business travel. At the foot of Grand Hirafu, you have an elegant ski resort with robust life and particular amenities, all while being at ground level, and not having to commute from the mountains if you’re simply visiting Hokkaido for a business trip. With such high standards to uphold, Ki Niseko puts service and cleanliness at their forefront, and they hit their mark every time.
- Hotel Monterey Sapporo: With an antique feel and modern amenities, the Hotel Monterey Sapporo wins the hearts of those for all types of travel. Recurring visitors take note of the universal interior, not specifically applying to one culture or the other. Its diversity brings all types of visitors through its doors.
Best restaurants in Hokkaido
Simply put, it would not be a proper visit to Japan without enjoying authentic Japanese cuisine. From fine dining to cheap eats, there’s something for everyone—and everyone’s budget.
- Hakodate Uni Murakami Nihon Seimei Sapporo: Conveniently located near the local shops and JR station, this fine restaurant will wrap you in its cozy feeling, and immerse you in the cultural food experience. This is one place you don’t want to miss in Hokkaido.
- Gotsubo: For an inexpensive dine-in experience, head to Gotsubo. It offers fair-priced seafood with exceptional freshness and quality. Their value is impeccable and their atmosphere gives you the cultural experience. Be sure to stop by and give Gotsubo a try while you’re in Hokkaido.
- Hama Sapporo: Now here’s a real authentic Japanese steakhouse. It’s never the first thing anybody thinks of when perusing authentic Japanese food, but it’s certainly one of the best. Passing up on the opportunity to try the teppanyaki is a mistake; it is nothing short of sublime.
Things to do in Hokkaido
With so much geographical appeal and an incredibly long history, Japan bolsters many things you just would not know about unless you had the company of a local guide.
That being said, here are some of the hidden gems you can expect to find in Hokkaido:
Another testament to the natural beauty of this country, the cove-like feeling and natural rock formations at Sky Cape are further examples of places to “get lost” in Hokkaido.
Yes, Sky Cape has a certain mystique about it, and will have you wondering what events throughout Japanese history could have, and possibly did, happen here.
There’s no better way to get up close and personal with the wildlife on Hokkaido. While it’s not a typical zoo, you will still be inches away from polar bears with only exhibit glass for protection.
At the same time as not being a traditional zoo you are still greeted with enthusiastic staff who love what they do and these guides are equipped with an arsenal of information to properly display
everything Asahiyama Zoo has to offer.
Abashiri Prison Museum
For an immersive experience into Japanese culture, take a one-day visit to the Abashiri Prison Museum.
When you glance around at the interior, you get to see how the prison system in Hokkaido truly was in the past.
You get a few hours if you read all the epitaphs.
Take in a unique view of the horizon at Hosooka Observation and become encapsulated by its beauty.
Providing a one-of-a-kind perspective of some of Japans most gorgeous scenery, the observation deck is particularly impressive at dusk when a vibrant spectacle of colors stream out across the
Although there are too many destinations in the world for this lifetime, if Hokkaido did not feature on your bucket list of places to visit in Japan, you should consider a change of mind. With so much natural beauty and cultural immersion to offer, it is a microcosm of Japan on a small island and did you know that more American citizens permanently move to Japan than any other country> Well, there is good reason for this statistic and the only way to uncover the mystery, charm and attraction, is to see it with your own eyes.